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August 2012

How to Give Your Audience Time to Digest Your Content

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digesting content Last week, I posted my opinion that “blog when you have something to say” is bad advice. Unsurprising, a little debate about how often one should post is going on in the comments of that post. This is a debate that has raged for years and will likely continue for years to come.

But while people often talk about how often you should create content in order to keep readers engaged, what we should be talking about as well is how you should schedule content to avoid overwhelming your fans. When you publish too much content, your audience doesn’t always have time to digest it. So how can you ensure that you don’t post too often?

  • Stick to a schedule.

When people get overwhelmed by your content, it’s typically not because you’re posting too much, but rather that you’re posting too much unexpectedly. If you don’t post for two weeks and then suddenly post three times in a single day, your readers are thrown off kilter. Similarly, if you typically have three new podcast episodes per month and suddenly you have three in one week, your listeners probably haven’t set time aside to listen to all that content. Sometimes, extra content sneaks in; it is important to be timely when dealing with a news story. But most of the time, it’s important to set expectations with your readers by sticking to a general schedule. People subconsciously plan when they’ll digest your content, so you don’t want to mess up that plan they’ve made.

  • Mix up your content.

If you’re worried about posting too much content, think about the type of content you’re uploading. Maybe you do a video one day and an in-depth written piece the next. Maybe your 3,000 word post is surrounded by shorter pieces. Maybe your make a podcast available for download, but offer a transcript the next day. People like to digest different kinds of content, so mixing things up and giving them options makes your content more inviting than day after day of the same thing.

  • Set the bar high for quality.

Lastly, I think it’s important to challenge yourself to raise the bar on your content. People will make time to digest whatever brain food you set in front of them if that food tastes like it is from a five-star restaurant. I hope that if you’re reading this post you realize the importance of good quality, but we all get lazy sometimes. Push yourself to create better content more often. If you can do that, your audience won’t be overwhelmed; they’ll be begging for more.

Want to set the bar higher for yourself? Join us at NMX in Vegas this January to learn more about content creation online.

Postcards from the NMX Beach House

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The first thing we saw upon accessing our beach house was the stunning view. How could we not be inspired?

Last week,  the entire NMX team converged upon San Diego county to have our first ever, in person, team-wide meeting.  This was no easy feat. As several of us don’t live in the  San Diego area, our meetings are generally conducted via Skype, telephone or over dinner when we get together at conferences, but even then we don’t usually have the whole team together at the same time. For NMX co-founders Rick Calvert and Dave Cynkin, the meeting was something to be proud of as it’s proof of the growth our organization and our conferences are achieving.

 

 

 

 

 

The NMX and TBEX team converges on the deck to give our post show analysis.

 

 

In the past year there have been many new hires to the NMX team. We acquired TBEX, the travel blogger conference and added to our sales and marketing team. We even brought in a new Conference Director for the Social Media Business summit. New Media Expo is no longer a six man operation.

 

 

 

 

 

Our meeting took place in Encinitas, California, in a house overlooking the beach. Our week was spent renewing bonds with existing team members and getting to know some of the new members of the team. We laid out our job duties, defined the purposes of our content and conferences, analyzed our June conferences and planned our Las Vegas conference. There are also rumors that I will neither confirm nor deny of a late night hot tub party.

Now  back at our desks, the NMX team is focused, pumped and in take no prisoners mode. New Media Expo is going to rock because we’re committed, and we can’t wait for January to come.

 

What follows are some of the highlights of our team retreat and time spend at the NMX Beach House.

Before we began our meeting, we each had to tell a little about ourselves, including what we like to do during our down times. Bet you didn’t know that our staff accountant spends a lot of time on dirt bikes or that our Director of Marketing races sailboats or even that our CMO is a national champion in taekwondo, did you?

 

 

 

 

 

CEO & Co-Founder, Rick Calvert, explains to us the differences and unique aspects of each of our conferences.

Our co-founders, Rick Calvert and Dave Cynkin, took time to discuss the differences in the content and community for our different conferences. New Media Expo (NMX), our flagship event, is a conference for content creators.  Social Media Business Summit (SMBS) is a conference within a conference geared towards helping businesses use and measure social media, and TBEX, our newest acquisition, is a conference for travel bloggers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technology Director Chris Castro helps to coordinate giant white boards listing all staff duties and tasks.

We also put together giant white boards listing everyone’s duties so we’re clear on everyone’s gigs in order to best work together without stepping on toes. With all the new hires, and very few of us working in the same office, this was a good thing to go over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CMO & Co-Founder Dave Cynkin recorded it all.

 

 

Now, you may be wondering, where’s Dave?  Dave did plenty of talking but when he wasn’t presenting or listening, he was recording the entire meeting. Not sure what we’ll do with it all – I think there’s good bribery material there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon after arriving, the team relaxes and gets to know each other. From Left to Right: Patti Hosking, Shane Ketterman, Carrie Herbert, Jill Angus, and, on his first day on the job, SMBS Conference Director Mark Fidelman.

 

For the brand new members of our team, there couldn’t have been a better way to learn who we are and what we’re all about than in such a relaxed atmosphere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Craven, Allison Boyer, Deb Ng and Rick Calvert get some beach time in.

 

 

Our house was high on a bluff with no beach access, but that didn’t stop some of us from making at least one trip to the beach to enjoy the sunset. TBEX Sales Director James Craven, Community Outreach Coordinator Alli Boyer, Director of Community Deb Ng, and CEO Rick Calvert weren’t about to let the opportunity pass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rick Calvert and Chris Castro cap off a perfect week.

Those of us who were left on Thursday night, our last night, were treated to music from Chris Castro and Rick Calvert, the perfect way to end a perfect week.

Values-based Blogging: 5 Ways a Blogger’s Creed Can Set You Apart

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Much has been written about the importance of a blogger’s about page. It’s true. Your online bio is the connector between you and your readers. It lets them get a personal peek, past you the blogger, to you the person.

But does it go far enough? Are there any good reasons for taking that extra step: for sharing your core beliefs and values?

Your very own blogger’s creed, front and center on your blog, can be an excellent tool for doing just that.

Spelling out who you are and what you believe in will separate you out from the gazillions of other bloggers out there. For an example of a blogger’s creed, you can see mine over at my bobwp blog. I call it “Things I Believe.”

Why should you bother creating a blogger’s creed?

1. It communicates your core beliefs and code of ethics.

Online, in a world full of avatars and sound bites, our ‘humanness’ can sometimes suffer. Sharing your guiding beliefs, the principles you live by, just makes us feel like we know you—and trust you—so much more.

2. It shows inclusiveness.

If you let your readers know ahead of time that you value them enough to share your personal side, you are telling them that you want them to come closer. You are telling them that you invite their participation in the community. Most of all, you are showing that you believe in making your blog a friendly, welcoming place.

3. It forewarns your community that you expect them to play nice.

More than just a standard synopsis of your commenting policies, a blogger’s creed (or whatever you choose to call it), can create the climate and sense of community you want to foster on your blog. So people who are tempted to go against that code will think twice about it.

4. It helps you find like-minded clients and customers.

Like attracts like. If you are interested in working with people who share similar values, you are setting it up by sharing your work style and relationship-building philosophy. If yours is a business blog, you will be more likely to find clients and customers who appreciate your honesty and the opportunity to try the relationship on for size before they approach you.

5. It opens you up to new partnership opportunities.

Other bloggers and potential business partners like knowing more about you than just where you have worked before and what hobbies you enjoy. Many times, just reading your short list of core beliefs can make them much more comfortable picking up that phone or sending that email.

On the other side of the coin, it can also weed out the people who are not a good fit with your view of the world.

Because you know yourself better than anyone else in the world, it won’t be too hard to come up with a short list of, say, five to eight things, you believe most about people and life. And it can even be a fun exercise.

What about you?

Do you have a blogger’s creed on your blog?

Have you ever thought about creating one?

Should Twitter Comply with NYPD?

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Right now, the story is gaining momentum online. Someone on Twitter has threatened to launch an “Aurora style” shooting at Mike Tyson’s one-man show in New York City (of course, the person is referring to the devastating shooting in Aurora, Colorado which occurred on the opening day of The Dark Knight Rises and resulted in twelve deaths). Law enforcement has asked Twitter for the user information of the person who sent the tweet–and Twitter won’t comply.

According to ABC News, the first tweet was sent August 1 and read:

This s**t ain’t no joke yo I’m serious people are gonna die just like in aurora.

When someone on Twitter contacted the potential shooter on August 3 to ask if he had changed his mind, he tweeted back:

no I had last minute plans and I’m in Florida rite now but it’ll happen I promise I’m just finishing up my hit list.

Could this be nothing? Just someone with no sense of what is appropriate to joke about and what is not? Indeed. But, is Twitter taking privacy too seriously and not paying attention to the context that shapes things?

It was just days ago that Guy Adams had his account suspended for tweeting the corporate email address of an NBC executive, saying it violated that person’s privacy (the suspension was later overturned and the email was published on at least one website, so it wasn’t actually private). I get that Twitter wants to protect privacy. But, when maintaining that privacy can result in deaths, I say throw it out the window.

I love Twitter and I use it daily. If Twitter amended its Terms of Service to say that the minute a user tweets a threat of any kind, they are not longer covered by privacy laws, I’d gladly accept that revision to the TOS. Because, as a law abiding citizen who never intends to threaten people, I have no problem with that.

However, I know many of you are going to play the free speech card and I’m all about being able to say what you want. But doesn’t a tweet that threatens to kill people fall into the same category as yelling “fire” in a crowded theater? Do you want people like this guy to be protected by privacy clauses? Would you gladly relinquish a little bit of privacy for the common good?

Let’s hear what you think! Should Twitter cooperate with the New York Police Department to potentially avoid another mass shooting in America?

How to Use Camera Techniques for Emotional Filmmaking

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Camera shots in your favorite movies, television shows, and web series aren’t random. With the right shot, you can begin to elicit emotion in your audience before your characters ever say a word. These are techniques you can do with any kind of camera, and they’re completely free; you don’t need fancy equipment to make the shots happen (at least most of the time). So what are your options and how do these kinds of camera techniques psychologically affect that viewer? Here’s a great video from Film Riot that explains the relationship between emotion and the shot you choose:

Remember, although this video is talking about pulling emotions during a work of fiction, you can use these same techniques if you’re creating non-fiction videos as well, such as interviews and tutorials. Playing around with camera placement can make scenes feel extremely different, so try a few options to get that overall video tone you really want.

6 Steps to Get Your Listeners To Stick Around

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to do list

(photo by Cossac)

To keep your listener coming back for more, make her comfortable. It is like she is meeting an old friend again. Most people know what they like and like what they know. To get your listeners to stick with your show, build a solid structure. Then, be creative within it.

Think of your favorite talk show. Can you see the structure? Late night talk hosts like Jay Leno and David Letterman follow a structure with an opening monologue, a comedy segment, two guest interviews and a band performance. Radio call-in shows like “The Dave Ramsey Show” and “The Clark Howard Show” will structure their show with an opening and monologue followed by calls from listeners. Successful shows follow a format.

I often hear podcasters say, “We don’t have a format. We just talk about whatever is on our minds.” This is a mistake. Your listener expects quality and consistency. They want to be assured they are getting what they expect. Consistency makes your listener comfortable.

Structure doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and ad lib on your show. A structure simply means you have a well-defined plan. You need to know where you’re going and how you plan to get there. More importantly, your listener needs to know that you know. A consistent structure conveys that message.

Here are six elements you can add to your show to quickly build some structure:

1. Include an Intriguing introduction

New listeners will constantly join your podcast. You cannot assume every listener has heard the first episode or any episode that happened before this one. Tell your new listener what to expect from your show every time you record a new podcast.

Your introduction should be succinct and intriguing. You have about thirty seconds to convince your listener to stick around for the rest of the show. Tell them who you are and what you do in a general sense. Next, tell them what to expect from this specific show. Finally, tell them how to get involved with the podcast.

“Welcome to the Podcasters Podcast. My name is Erik K. Johnson. Over the next 30 minutes, we will answer your questions about transforming your podcast from average information into engaging entertainment and we will turn your relationships into cash.”

With that quick introduction, I told you exactly what to expect. You know the name of my fictitious podcast. You know the name of the host, exactly how long the podcast will run, and the goal for the show. I’ve also put you in the mix by referencing your dreams and how my podcast will help you. In those brief seconds, I’ve told you who, what, when and why.

Your introduction must be intriguing. On his show “48 Days Podcast,Dan Miller discusses the possibility of finding work you love. He hooks his listeners right from the start.

“Today we are going to talk about work” is not intriguing. That will not create any desire to stick around to hear what you have to say, especially for 30 minutes or an hour. For many, talking about work is like watching paint dry. Dan opens with “Do you love your work? Do you think it’s possible? Well, you’re about to find out.” Dan is intriguing.

“Today we are going to answer four e-mails to help these individuals escape their dreaded 9-to-5 and get into their dream jobs.” That is a statement that will stir some emotion and make people listen through to the end.

A great introduction welcomes new listeners to the group while making regular listeners feel comfortable.

2. Details That Delight

Details captivate the imagination of your listener. Your podcast should contain great stories that engage your audience. Put your listener in the story by adding delightful details.

“It was a muggy, hot lunchtime. We ducked into the cool, dark shade of the thick woods where the sun was barely visible through the dense leaves. My eyes hadn’t yet adjusted to the leaf-covered path when I lost my footing near the edge of an embankment. I ended up landing on my hip and rolling head-over-feet down the fairly steep, 10-foot drop where I promptly landed on my butt in the muddy mess below. My legs were completely covered in mud as if I had been rolling in it for hours.”

With the delightful details of that story, you can almost feel yourself in the woods. You can see the muddy mess in your mind. You can smell the thick, wooded area. Details help your listener experience the story rather than just hearing it.

3. Call To Action

Your podcast should encourage your listener to take action. The most common action we desire is listening again. Other possibilities include buying our product, visiting our website, or getting involved with our cause.

To get our listeners to act, we must include a call to action. It seems logical. However, many podcasters believe, “If I build it, they will come.” It simply doesn’t happen that way. Remember to always include a call to action. People won’t buy unless you ask them to buy.

4. Remove The Breaks

Be sure your show flows. Do not break the podcast into parts. When you make one segment sound like it ends, making a break appear, the listener has a chance to exit.

When you say, “Now it’s time for…” you have just made one segment end and another begin. You’ve given the audience the signal that the portion of the show they were just enjoying is now over, and you’re moving on to something different. If they want to get out, now is the time.

Avoid giving them the chance to leave by keeping the show one continuous, smooth piece of work. Simply start the next element without setting it up with a qualifier.

5. Help Your Audience

If your entire product and marketing strategy is focused on you, it will be very difficult to retain listeners. People are interested in themselves. As good as you might be, your listener will still wonder what is in it for them.

As Zig Ziglar says, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Make it clear how your listener benefits by your content. Focus on helping your audience.

Your customer is not interested in your product. She is interested in what your product can do for her. The content of your podcast must relate to your listener at all times. Make sure you position your content from the point of view of your listener. Nobody wants to watch your home movies unless they are in them.

6. A Powerful Conclusion

When you reach the end, thank your audience. Give them a nice conclusion summarizing the show, and let them know where they can get more. You might send them to your website, invite them to join your group on a social media site, or simply remind them when the next podcast will be posted.

Just like speech class, your conclusion should restate your introduction almost word-for-word. It should also contain your call to action.

Put It In Place

Follow these six steps, and you will quickly add some solid structure to your show. Even if you don’t have the desire to grow your audience to huge levels, you will need to replace the natural attrition your podcast will experience. You will always have listeners who stop listening for various reasons, such as no need, replaced by another, no longer entertained, or replaced the computer/phone with the rss feed.

As you attract new listeners to continue to fill the funnel, you must immediately hook and welcome these people to the party. A structure will help you do that. Make your listener comfortable. Most people know what they like and like what they know. Build your structure. Then, be creative within it.

What have you added to your podcast to create structure? How has it helped your audience grow? Share it below, and help others learn.

Are Your Blogging Goals Realistic?

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When I first started blogging, I had laughably unrealistic goals. It was 2006, and I was newly hired to run an op-ed blog examining religions of the world for a blog network. At that time, I was offered payment based on a percentage of the total Google ad earning on the site, plus a very small base salary per post (less than $10). I didn’t care about the base salary because I knew how well I could write. I knew my posts would lead to massive amounts of traffic. I know that huge traffic numbers would mean a lot of ad clicks. I knew that this blogging thing was going to be a piece of cake.

So I spent four hours writing my first post, which was about 250 words with no pictures or links in it. I hit the publish button, sat back in my computer chair, and waited.

Of course, as you can probably guess, everything I “knew” was completely wrong. If I remember correctly, I made less than $3 in ad revenue that first month, and this was typical during my time blogging on this site until they changed the freelance blogger payment method. I was making around $2 per hour working for this blog network, which was not quite what I had imagined when I took the job.

The Importance of Realistic Goals

Last month, I wrote about how important it is to ensure that your actions and goals align, but let’s focus for a moment just on your goals. If you start out with bad goals, it doesn’t matter what actions you take.

When I realized the reality of my religion blog, I was pretty upset. I imagined that I would be making hundreds or even thousands of dollars blogging under this model, and I hoped it could be a full time job eventually. My goal during that first month was to make at least $500 – and I came up drastically short. It was depressing. I wasn’t motivated to continue, and I questioned my abilities as a writer.

If you don’t have realistic goals, you’ll never be able to reach them. While challenging yourself is important, having unrealistic goals that you can never reach sets you up for certain failure. When you’re focused on trying to avoid this inevitable failure, you aren’t attentive to the ways you can succeed.

How Do You Know If Your Goals Are Unrealistic?

Every blogger should be pushed by goals. Setting goals like “get ten Facebook fans” is silly. If you don’t challenge yourself, you’ll never really be able to grow to your full potential. But don’t forget that the opposite is also true. Being discouraged by unrealistic goals can hold you back.

So how do you know if your goals are unrealistic? Here are a few indications:

  • Your goal isn’t relative.

Goals take time. If you’re trying to do too much too quickly, you will likely fail. Instead, take some time to study your blog so you can set relative goals. For example, if your blog traffic typically grows by 10% per month, it’s unrealistic to set the goal of growing by 50% in a month. Instead, try setting a goal of 15% and move from there. Before you try to achieve above-average goals, you have to know what average really is.

  • There isn’t a plan in place to reach your goal.

If your goals aren’t linked to actions, you will likely fail. Sure, your blog will naturally grow over time if you publish quality content, but natural growth is not really in your control. You want your goals connected to actions you can actually take to reach that goal. For instance, if your goal is to reach 500 Pinterest followers, just relying on people to follow your page without you actually doing anything is silly. Instead, list what you’ll do to get these followers. That way, you can actually achieve this goal, not just sit by and wait for it to happen.

  • Your goals are too broad.

Broad goals aren’t realistic because even if they are obtainable, you can’t really track your progress. For example, let’s say that your goal is simple “make more money with my blog.” Monetization is a great topic for a goal, but this particular goal is way to broad. How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? Technically, if you make a single cent more, you’ve reached you goal. So quantify your goals rather than being too general.

  • You’re asking too much of yourself.

There are only so many hours in the day. If your goals don’t allow you to sleep, it doesn’t matter if you achieve them or not. Ultimately, you’ll be too burned out to care. Avoid challenging yourself so much that your goals are unobtainable without sacrifices that cost too much.

If you haven’t yet, sit down at your computer or even with a pencil and paper in your hands and make a list of your goals. Always ask yourself, “How can I get there?” whenever you come up with a goal. You want to push yourself to do things that seem impossible, but be careful to avoid goals that actually are impossible.

Confession: I Bought Facebook Fans (And I Don’t Regret It)

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I have a confession to make. Last month, for the first time ever, I pulled out my credit card and bought Facebook fans. Yes, I actually paid money for bigger social media numbers. I just started a new food blog, and I wanted to quickly grow my presence on this network.

But perhaps the more shocking part of my confession is this: I do not regret my decision. In fact, I recommend that you consider buying Facebook fans too.

How to Buy Fans the Right Way

I don’t recommend that you pay a social media company to boost your numbers. They might say they can get you “real fans,” but in actuality, what they do is pad your page’s numbers with dummy accounts and foreign users who are paid to like pages. They aren’t really fans. These fans are never going to buy your products, share your posts, or click though to your website. They don’t give a hoot about you or your business. You’re throwing money away if you buy fans this way.

But there’s another way to buy Facebook fans. If you’re brand new, building a Facebook presence can be done, but it certainly takes time to gain momentum. A way to more quickly build a following is to purchase fans – through the use of Facebook ads. Facebook ads help in a few ways:

  • More fans means more people sharing your updates, and with every share, you’ll be reaching new potential fans. So, one you have that base of fans, you can start growing exponentially if you update your page well.
  • If your page is empty, it can scare off people who come to it. With more fans, there will be more interaction on your page.

When you pay for ads on Facebook, you are buying fans – but you’re only buying fans who are actually interested in your page. I bought fans this way and I don’t regret it at all. I think every business can benefit from running Facebook ads.

Facebook Advertisement Choices

Facebook gives users two ad choices: CPC and CPM. With a CPC ad, you’ll pay for every person who clicks on your ad. With a CPM ad, you’ll pay for every person who sees your ad.

In both cases, you aren’t paying for a like – you’re paying for the potential of a like. If you choose to go with a CPC model, make your ad as clear as possible, since you want people to only click if they are actually going to like the page. If you choose to go with a CPM model, make your ad as enticing as possible so it grabs people’s attention when they view it and they click through to your page.

I recommend trying both CPC and CPM ads to see which you like best. Set a dollar amount and run your ad with each model to see which performs better. For me, the CPC ad was more effective, but that may not be the case for you. So do some A/B testing first before committing tons of money to one type of ad.

Creating Targeted Facebook Ads

Remember, with Facebook ads, you can also set parameters so only certain users see your ads. I especially recommend doing this if you go with CPM ads, since you don’t want to pay for your ad to be viewed by people who won’t be interested in your page. If you run a car detailing business, for example, a Facebook ad that isn’t targeted is going to be seen by a lot of people who don’t like cars – and even people who are too young to own cars.

Using targeting functions can also help you reach people who aren’t currently part of your fan base. For example, let’s say you run a fashion blog and most of your readers are female, even though you talk about male fashion too. A targeted Facebook ad that you set to only be seen by males who list fashion as an interest. This will help you reach people who will likely enjoy your content, but who have previously not found your page.

Reading More About Buying Facebook Fans

Here on the NMX/BlogWorld blog, we often write about Facebook , and we’ve also compiled a list of people in our community talking about Facebook likes in a past edition of Brilliant Bloggers. For specific advice about how to get more Facebook fans, check out these posts:

For me, Facebook fans were extremely effective for my needs: a short burst when my newest blog launched. If you already have a fan base, an ad may or may not work well for you. Have you tried running a Facebook ad to increase your fans? What were the results?

Robert Scoble talks about Blogging [Video]

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Back in the day, there were only a few hundred blogs on the web; not the millions there are now. When it comes to blogging, there are just a handful of people who have been in the space for a long time. One of those veteran bloggers is Robert Scoble.

Robert has built a name and strong reputation for himself and we’re always pleased when he comes to share his knowledge at our conferences. At our most recent event in New York, Srinivas Rao of BlogcastFM caught up with Robert. Check out what he has to say about standing out online, representing a brand while being your own personal brand, and about how social media has changed how we share.

 

 

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